11.22.2013

LE RELAIS DE VENISE & L'ENTRECOTE

Since I've lived in London I've always wanted to go to Le Relais de Venise here, as I used to go in their sister restaurant L'Entrecôte in Toulouse for many years.
The concept is easy, it is a no-choice menu composed by a salad starter followed by a 'Steak-Frites' served with a secret sauce made by Paul Gineste de Saurs.
If you are a regular client at L'Entrecôte, you must not leave the place without having two plates of fries with your meat and the famous and delicious chocolate profiteroles as a dessert or you are not a real customer.
The sauce is not totally a secret in France, only the quantity of each ingredients are the secret. The sauce is made with chicken liver, fresh thyme and flower of thyme, whipping cream, white mustard, butter, water, salt, and pepper.
I went there with my sister so we were both the best expert to analyze the difference between the UK version and The French version.


Arrival:
Good point for the English version, we only wait 3 minutes inside to get a table while in Toulouse (France) we would have wait probably 45 minutes or an hour to get a seat.
UK: 1 - France : 0


Starter : Salad
I always thought the seasoning is what makes a salad good or not. During my lunch at Relais de Venise my sister and I were both disappointed, the salad was over seasoned, there was too much salad sauce like if someone put a whole bottle in only one dish! I couldn't finish my dish. The only positive point was that they crushed the walnut which makes it more easy to eat that the French version, but it was not enough to make the UK dish win.
UK: 1 - France: 1

UK version: Relais de Venise
 
French version: L'Entrecôte

Main dish: Steak- Frites
For this dish we saw the difference from the beginning without having to try it.
About the steak, both restaurant have a good meat supplier, and know how to cook the beef as you wanted.
About the fries, they didn't look the same, I know what you will think they look better on UK version picture (at some point I never understand why the French one never look great on pictures), but trust me at the end the look doesn't count, they are better in France.
About the sauce, it is the same recipe in both place but apparently not the same measurements of ingredients. The textures are different, in France there is more depth while in the UK it is more one dimensional. In UK, they put more mustard than the French version.
UK:2 - France: 4

 UK version
UK version
French version
Presentation of the dish:
In Le Relais de Venise, they served your plate with the steak and some fries and then keep the second part of your meat somewhere hidden from your eyes, I finished my fries in my first dish and I was a bit sad to see that the waitress was not coming to ask me if I wanted more...I had to finish my meat without fries to see my second plate with more meat and fries coming.
In France they do exactly the same instead of the last part. When everyone is served on your table, they bring the rest of your meat to the table so you can serve yourself depending on the rhythm you are eating.  Also, the waitresses seem more professional, as they always have a discreet look to see if you need more fries on your plate and bring more to you.
Both restaurants use candle heaters to keep your meat warm, at least it is what I thought before my second plate of meat in Le Relais de Venise arrived cold... Someone must have used cheap candles from Primark under our dish or candles turn off and no one see it!!
UK: 2 - France : 5

French version
Dessert: Chocolate profiteroles
Nothing to say about chocolate profiteroles, they are both delicious in both restaurant. I am not a huge fan of dessert (as I don't wish to become obese) but the profiteroles in L'Entrecôte is the only pudding I eat all the time. So when I went to Le  Relais de Venise I had to try it. The presentation on the dish was better in UK.
UK: 3 - France: 5

 UK version
 
French version
Price:
In France the menu with chocolate profiteroles dessert without wine is 23.5€ (price included service and VAT) while in London it is £28.95 for the same thing but on top on that you have to add 10% of service charge.
UK: 3 - France: 6.



Result: 
Uk: 3 - France: 6
It is with no surprise that my sister and I agreed that the French version is better in many points that the English version!  But I have to say it was quite a delight to go to Le Relais de Venise as it costs less than buying a plane ticket to go back to France just to enjoy a steak-frites with the delicious fries.
I am back to France in December and it is with no surprise I will go back to L'Entrecôte very soon.

Credits: pictures of the French version were made by my brother-in-law Julien.

 Le Relais de Venise 
120 Marylebone Ln
London W1U 2QG
 
 L'Entrecôte
15 Boulevard de Strasbourg
 31000 Toulouse, France

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11.08.2013

STICKS'N'SUSHI

Yesterday I went to the soft opening of the new branch of Sticks'N'Sushi near Covent Garden on Henrietta Street. Sticks'N'Sushi officially open tomorrow.
The restaurant is decorated with modern furnitures, tables are covered by leather which gives a chic atmosphere, I was not convinced by their choice of  chair (one arm rest) , as everytime I tried to go out of my chair I was stuck inside.
The space is provided with a longitudinal stairway in bended steel connecting ground floor with the basement. In the basement you have some seats on the counter which surrounds the kitchen.
My friend and I had three courses each, a glass of wine and we shared a selection of desserts.
Our dinner starts with a classic miso soup served with tofu, spring onion & wakame seaweed for both of us. The soup was hot and had a lot of flavour.
As a second course my friend had tuna sashimi, according to him, it was a good quality tasting and the fish was not fat. I had black Alsaska roll, I was so happy to see for one time a roll with salmon, avocado and cream cheese in London, I never found some before last night and they are my favourite in France. They were better than the one in France thanks to the touch of tobiko on top of the rice.
As a third course we both shared two kind of Yakitori ( Buta Kushi Katsu & Yaki Hitsuji Chiizu), the panko breaded pork with wasabi caesar dressing was recommended by our waiter. Both yakitori were pretty good, as a goat cheese lover, I preferred the Yaki Hitsuji Chiizu.
We also shared a Yakiniku steak, this dish was pretty good, very tasty, but it was my deception of the night on the other side as the dish arrived a bit cold at our table, so it could have been better if we ate it hot.
To end our dinner we had a four tasters dessert, apparently it was according to the menu a  green tea ice cream (which taste more like a vanilla ice cream than green tea),  a delicious chocolate fondant with caramel and hazelnut brittle, a kind of chocolate truffle with sesame seeds and a tasty creme brulee (the creme brulee slightly failed the spoon cracking test).


Overall it was a nice experience, dishes were nicely presented, I will recommend this place for a special occasion. As it was a soft opening I presume the experience could be even better in the future. I think what is lacking in Covent Garden is a fun and special feeling pan-asian restaurant and Sticks'N'Sushi fills this gap perfectly.

We were invited to eat at Sticks'N'Sushi.
 Classic Miso Soup
 Sashimi Maguro , tuna served with supreme soy
 Black Alaska roll : salmon cream cheese & avocado, rolled in black tobiko
 Buta Kushi Katsu & Yaki Hitsuji Chiizu
 Panko breaded pork with wasabi caesar dressing
Goat cheese with dried ham

Rib Eye Steak marinated in Japonese barbecue sauce, topped with spring onion & sesame seeds, served with kimchee
Yakiniku steak

Four Tasters

Sticks'N'Sushi
11 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8PY
Twitter: @Sticknsushi_uk
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